For Congress, loss in RR Nagar, close race in Sira bypolls

Party’s report shows Kusuma not accepted, Muniratna still popular; JDS eating into party’s vote share.

Published: 27th October 2020 05:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th October 2020 05:54 AM   |  A+A-

Congress candidate for RR Nagar Kusuma H campaigns in Bengaluru on Monday.

Congress candidate for RR Nagar Kusuma H campaigns in Bengaluru on Monday.

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Bengaluru Rural MP DK Suresh may have made bypolls to Rajarajeshwari Nagar assembly seat a personal fight, but with one week to go for polling, the party’s internal assessment suggests a probable heavy loss here. In Sira, the Congress’ assessment puts it neck-and-neck with BJP, a party that has never won this assembly seat.

The worries of the Congress have only increased with the JDS campaign picking up pace in Sira, where the two parties have historically been at loggerheads. Sources in the Congress suggest that paradropping of H Kusuma as a candidate in Rajarajeshwari Nagar has complicated matters, with local cadres unable to connect with her, and vice-versa. Muniratna’s popularity in the constituency, as well as the BJP being in power in the state, is proving to be a challenge.

While convention suggests that bypolls, in general, favour the ruling party, Muniratna’s probability of becoming a minister in the BS Yediyurappa cabinet, if elected, has made the Rajarajeshwari Nagar poll all the more difficult for Congress. As on Monday — voting is a week away — the Congress anticipates a loss with a margin of 25,000- 35,000 votes. In Sira, the Congress hopes to turn the tide in its favour, after KPCC President DK Shivakumar’s scheduled campaign starts on Tuesday.

Shivakumar is expected to meet grassroots level leaders who jumped to the BJP, and woo them back. The BJP has deployed eight in-charge leaders, including two Deputy Chief Ministers for Sira, in a caste combination that covers not just dominant communities, but includes leaders who can bring sub-caste, sub-category voters on board.

The very fact that Congress’ internal assessment puts it neck-and-neck with the BJP, and not the JDS, shows the deep inroads the saffron party has made in a seat it hasn’t won before. The Congress is banking on candidate TB Jayachandra’s work as former MLA and minister during consecutive terms from the seat. KPCC President DK Shivakumar is also said to be convinced that leaders like Rajanna, G Parameshwara and Siddaramaiah will put their differences aside and work as a unit in the seat.

The JDS campaign, that was barely taking off until last week, has seen a sudden vigorous shake-up led by party patriarch HD Deve Gowda, and that worries the Congress. Although candidates of all three parties are Vokkaligas, the JDS is likely to eat into the Congress party’s target voters indirectly, helping the BJP consolidate its base.

Vote fixing rampant in polls: JDS spokesman
Bengaluru: “BJP leaders are handing out set-top boxes to voters, while Congress leaders are using the caste factor. This is a greater threat than the coronavirus,’’ charged JDS spokesman and former MLC Saravana. He said that just like with match fixing, there has been vote fixing in these elections, alleging that both national parties have violated the poll code. He alleged that BJP’s Muniratna defected from the Congress to the BJP for a ‘consideration,’ and that similar allegations on social media against JDS RR Nagar candidate V Krishnamurthy are merely slander.

Congress complaint against Muniratna for set-top box distribution
Bengaluru: Working President of Karnataka Congress Saleem Ahmed on Monday filed a complaint
against BJP’s Rajarajeshwari Nagar candidate Muniratna for poll code violation. This is the third
complaint filed by the party against Muniratna over violation of moral code of conduct and intimidation of oppenents. In his complaint, Ahmed has alleged that Muniratna has distributed 50,000 set-top boxes to families of voters in the constituency, at a cost of Rs 5 crore. The Congress added that the channels owned by Muniratna are airing programs with his photos and reach-out messages, which are being broadcast on set-top box. “On October 26, while campaigning in the constituency, Muniratna himself clearly stated that he has distributed set-top boxes and provided free televisions to people with the permission of the central government,” read the Congress’ complaint. Congress has sought action against the BJP candidate and urged the ECI to stop the telecast of channels owned by him, for attempting to influence voters. 


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